8 From The Archive

Vintage Pictures of Nat Geo Photographers in the Field

Photographers develop film in the sea, capture shots while hanging off of a ship, and take underwater pictures of coral reefs.

National Geographic is known for its photography, but that wasn’t always a good thing. When the magazine first started publishing pictures in the late 19th century, it shocked the scientific community, as well as many of the publication’s editors.

Magazine photos at that time were considered to be too tabloid—a cheap way of appealing to the masses. When Alexander Graham Bell became president of the National Geographic Society in 1898, he made a decision to go against this way of thinking by publishing stories with, as he said, “pictures, and plenty of them.”

The magazine’s early photo stories led to a quick rise in subscriptions, and cemented Nat Geo’s reputation for photojournalism. Here, from our archives, are photos of Nat Geo photographers and cameras from that period.

8 From the Archive is a weekly selection culled from National Geographic's archive, and curated by Archivist Bill Bonner and Senior Photo Editor Jessie Wender.

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